A good weekend at the draft table can lead to big things in the years to come. The Boston Bruins are just the latest example of the rewards of drafting well.
Every team has had its ups and downs since the draft began in 1963. Here's a look at the hits (and some of the misses) for the five teams in the Atlantic Division on Draft Day.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKSBest first-round pick: Denis Savard (1980) -- Luckily for Chicago, the Canadiens passed on Savard, a Montreal native, allowing him to fall to No. 3. He spent his first 10 seasons with the Hawks, breaking the 100-point barrier five times thanks to some of the most spectacular moves ever seen on an NHL rink. He finished his career with 473 goals and 1,338 points, the vast majority of them with the Hawks.
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Troy Murray (1980) -- Two rounds after landing Savard, the Hawks filled their No. 2 slot at center by picking Murray, who came to Chicago in 1982 after two seasons at the University of North Dakota and gave the Hawks several excellent seasons, including a 45-goal, 99-point monster year in 1985-86. He finished his career with 230 goals and 584 points in 915 NHL games and is now a team broadcaster.
Honorable mention: Eric Daze (1993), Duncan Keith (2002)
Best later-round pick: Dominik Hasek (1983) -- The Hawks spent a 10th-round pick on Hasek, not knowing if he'd ever be able to leave Czechoslovakia. Hasek arrived in Chicago as a 26-year-old in 1990, backed up Ed Belfour a season later when Belfour led the Hawks to the Stanley Cup Final, then was traded to Buffalo that summer. Unfortunately for Chicago, Hasek became perhaps the best 10th-round pick in draft history; the player they got (Stephane Beauregard) was soon gone from the NHL.
Honorable mention: Steve Larmer (1980), Dustin Byfuglien (2003)
Biggest disappointment: Adam Bennett (1989) -- There were big expectations when the Hawks made Bennett, a defenseman from the OHL's Sudbury Wolves, the No. 6 pick, but he never delivered on them. After scoring 18 and 21 goals in his final two seasons in junior hockey, Bennett did not score at all in two short stints with the Hawks, nor did he generate much offense in the minors. Bennett did score 3 goals after being dealt to Edmonton in 1993, but was out of pro hockey by the time he turned 25.
Honorable Mention: Eric Lecompte (1993), Mikhail Yakubov (2000)
DETROIT RED WINGSBest first-round pick: Steve Yzerman (1983) -- The Wings actually wanted to choose Pat LaFontaine with the fourth pick, because he had played in the area and management felt he would help sell tickets. But LaFontaine went to the Islanders at No. 3, leaving Yzerman to the Red Wings. Yzerman became the face of the franchise for a generation of Detroit fans, morphing from a high-scoring center on some non-winning teams to one of the best two-way centers on a franchise that won three Cups in six years. He moved into the front office after retirement before leaving last spring to become GM of the Lightning -- and promptly building them into a final four team.
Honorable mention: Marcel Dionne (1971), Mike Foligno (1979), Keith Primeau (1990)
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Nicklas Lidstrom (1989) -- This one is a tough call -- the Wings took another likely Hall of Famer, Sergei Fedorov, in the fourth round -- but the six-time Norris Trophy winner ranks as the biggest prize in one of the great drafts of all time. Lidstrom has been nearly flawless since arriving in the NHL in 1991. He owns four Stanley Cup rings, was the first European captain of a Cup winner, surpassed 1,000 points for his career early in 2009-10 and is in the conversation when the topic turns to the greatest defensemen of all time.
Honorable mention: Sergei Fedorov (1989), Chris Osgood (1991)
Best later-round pick: Henrik Zetterberg (1999) -- Getting Zetterberg in the seventh round of the Entry Draft was like finding a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk. As is the case with fellow late-round gem Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg is perfect for the Wings' puck-possession system -- offensively skilled, defensively responsible and tremendously hockey-smart. There is nothing that he can't do on the ice, and he's a perfect fit for Detroit's style of play.
Honorable mention: Tomas Holmstrom (1994), Pavel Datsyuk (1998)
Biggest disappointment: Kory Kocur (1988) -- Joey Kocur's cousin was a scorer, not a fighter -- the Wings chose him after a 34-goal season with Saskatoon of the WHL, and he put up 45 goals and 102 points in 1988-89 before turning pro. However, his scoring touch in junior never translated to the pros -- he had 18 and 8 goals in two AHL seasons before being sent to IHL Fort Wayne, where he had 25 and 21 goals before calling it a career in 1993.
Honorable Mention: Curtis Bowen (1992), Jesse Wallin (1996)
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETSBest first-round pick: Rick Nash (2002) -- The Jackets knew what they were doing when they chose Nash with the draft's first pick. Despite playing on a team that has struggled to score, Nash has 259 goals in eight seasons, including 32 in 2010-11. He was named team captain in March 2008, and he had 40 goals and a career-best 79 points in 2008-09 to lead the Jackets to their first playoff berth.
Honorable mention: Rostislav Klesla (2000), Pascal Leclaire (2001), Nikolai Zherdev (2003)
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Dan Fritsche (2003) -- Columbus has had little success drafting after the first round -- as evidenced by the choice of Fritsche, a hard-working Ohio native who had 29 goals in parts of four seasons with Columbus before being traded to the New York Rangers during the summer of 2008, and to Minnesota during the 2008-09 season.
Honorable mention: Petteri Nummelin (2000), Lasse Pirjeta (2002)
Best later-round pick: Marc Methot (2003) -- Expansion teams need to find late-round gems, but the Blue Jackets have failed in this area. Among the few later-round players to see any kind of substantial playing time is Methot, a sixth-rounder who didn't become an NHL regular until 2008-09. He has 6 goals and 40 points in 200 games over the last three seasons, after playing just 29 games the two previous seasons.
Honorable mention: Petteri Nummelin (2000), Lasse Pirjeta (2002)
Biggest disappointment: Alexandre Picard (2004) -- The Jackets finally gave up hope Picard, the eighth pick in the draft, would show the kind of scoring touch he had in junior hockey (39 and 40 goals in his last two seasons). In 67 games spread over five seasons, he never scored a goal. He was dealt to Phoenix at the trade deadline in 2010 but finished the season in the minor leagues. Picard will turn 26 in early October, spent all of 2010-11 in the AHL, and his window of opportunity for an NHL career is almost closed.
Honorable Mention: Gilbert Brule (2005)
NASHVILLE PREDATORSBest first-round pick: Ryan Suter (2003) -- A lot of people in Nashville refer to Weber as "Robin," the sidekick to Shea Weber's "Batman." But while Weber has the big gun from the point and gets most of the attention, Suter is more than just the other guy in the partnership. He had 4 goals and 39 points this past season while going a team-leading plus-20 -- despite playing more than 25 minutes a night against the opposition's best scorers on a nightly basis. He's quietly become one of the NHL's best two-way defensemen.
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Shea Weber (2003) -- Weber was the third of Nashville's second-round picks in 2003, but easily is the best of the three. Blessed with one of the NHL's biggest shots, Weber had 17 goals in 2006-07, slumped to 6 in an injury-plagued 2007-08, and then scored 23, 16 and 16 goals in the past three seasons. He turns 26 in August and is among the NHL's best defensemen.
Best later-round pick: Martin Erat (1999) -- Erat was a little-known forward from the Czech Republic when he was taken by the Predators in the seventh round of their second draft, He's averaged 19 goals and more than 50 points in the past six seasons and has become one of the most consistent mid-level forwards in the NHL.
Honorable mention: Karlis Skrastins (1998), Pekka Rinne (2004), Patric Hornqvist (2005)
Biggest disappointment: Brian Finley (1999) -- The Preds took Finley with the sixth pick, expecting him to become their goaltender of the future, but it never happened. Finley was forced to sit out the 2001-02 season due to a groin problem and had recurring injury issues throughout his career. Despite success in the AHL, Finley only played two games in Nashville -- one in 2002-03 and one in 2005-06. Boston signed him in the summer of 2006, but he played just two games and didn't get another contract.
Honorable mention: Jonas Andersson (1999), Timofei Shishkanov (2001)
ST. LOUIS BLUESBest first-round pick: Rod Brind'Amour (1988) -- The Blues took Brind'Amour, a center, from Junior A hockey, with the No. 8 pick -- and he was still playing more than two decades later, though he had long since left St. Louis. The Blues traded him to Philadelphia in 1991 after he dropped from 26 goals and 61 points as a rookie to 17 and 49. The Flyers dealt him to Carolina in 1999-2000, and Brind'Amour continued to put up numbers-- he finished his career in 2010 with 452 goals and 1,184, points. He will serve as an assistant with Carolina in 2011-12.
Honorable mention: Bernie Federko (1976), Perry Turnbull (1979), Barret Jackman (1999)
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Brian Sutter (1976) -- The oldest of the Sutter clan was the first to make the NHL when he was selected in the second round. As with all the Sutters, he was a tough, hard-nosed player (1,786 PIM), who also had plenty of skill. Brian had seven consecutive 30-goal seasons and finished his career with 303 goals. Not long after he retired in 1988, he was named coach, a job he held for four seasons.
Honorable mention: Steve Staios (1991), Igor Korolev (1992)
Best later-round pick: Doug Gilmour (1982) -- The Blues took the undersized center in the seventh round after a 46-goal, 119-point season for Cornwall of the OHL, then saw him put up 70 goals and 177 points in his final junior season. Gilmour was an instant hit as a rookie -- St. Louis fans loved his feistiness, and he also could put the puck in the net. The Blues traded him to Calgary after five seasons -- providing the Flames with a key piece of their Cup-winning team in 1989. He wound up playing 1,474 games with seven teams, piling up 450 goals and 1,414 points before retiring in 2003.
Honorable mention: Paul MacLean (1978), Cliff Ronning (1984)
Biggest disappointment: Marek Schwarz (2004) -- The Blues took Schwarz, a Czech goaltender, with the 17th pick, but he never made it in the NHL. Schwarz yo-yoed between the Blues and the minor leagues after turning pro in 2005, but played just six games for St. Louis -- including a pair of relief stints totaling 15 minutes in 2008-09. He last played in the Czech League in 2009-10.
Honorable mention: Keith Osborne (1987), Shawn Belle (2003)
Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist